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Vicksburg ‘moving into the future’ with Barge Design Solutions implementing airport expansion



Photo by MarcusObal - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

On Thursday, Oct. 10, South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour announced what could be an economic game changer for the City of Vicksburg: the expansion of the city’s airport.

The Vicksburg Municipal Airport is located seven miles southwest of the city on U.S. Hwy. 61 and one mile east of the Mississippi River. Today, it serves private and business customers with a 5,000-foot runway, a 2,400 square foot terminal and an aircraft maintenance facility, in addition to providing hangar and storage space.

To accommodate commercial flights, the runway must be extended to 6,500 feet in addition to meeting other Federal Aviation Administration requirements for big jets and consumer air-travel safety. The work of planning and implementing the airport’s expansion now falls to Barge Design Solutions, based in Dothan, Ala.

South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour. (photo from his City of Vicksburg Profile)

The project is in its very early stages, and the city is negotiating with Barge regarding contract specifics. Nonetheless, airport expansion has been on the minds of many Vicksburg residents for decades. Alderman Monsour has been one of its biggest advocates since becoming part of the city’s leadership.

“The one thing I always ‘knew’ about Vicksburg … is that we couldn’t expand the runways,” he said. “Well, that was a fallacy. We know it because I talked with FAA and everyone involved.”

In addition to enhancing prospects for business development in the city and Warren County, a nearby commercial airport is convenient for local people and makes the city more attractive to tourists.  “We want to make Vicksburg, Mississippi a hub, where you can get commuter flights anywhere you want to go,” Monsour said.

In an interview with the Vicksburg Daily News, Monsour talked about the concept of the city becoming “multi -modal” with the addition of a commercial airport.

“When you have all means of transportation, that is what industries look for. They want to know can they get their product in and out of here whether it be from air, rail, highway, river—we got it all,” with an expanded airport, Monsour said.

The alderman also indicated that although the preliminary estimate for the project is about $8 million, most of the funds could come in the form of FAA and other grants. In the best case scenario, the city’s contribution would be a tiny fraction of that, about $8,000.

“Now why wouldn’t we do that?” Monsour asked. “That’s smart business.”

Monsour and Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. will be on the way to Washington, D.C. soon to ensure the city can secure those grants, he said.

What we know about Barge Design Solutions

The city selected Barge from its response to a Request for Qualifications issued in September. The city’s request stated the type of services required could range from consulting and environmental analysis to planning and straight on through to construction. The city was looking for a company that could take on the project from soup to nuts, in other words, and Barge seems more than capable to fill that bill.

Based on its Statement of Qualifications, Barge has completed similar airport projects in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. About half of its 64 years in business has included aviation engineering and design services.

“Our dedicated and highly skilled aviation group has served municipal airports of all sizes, providing the Vicksburg Municipal Airport with a well-rounded team that understands the local market, airport operations, and the FAA and [Mississippi Department of Transportation],” the company wrote.

Among the qualifications that surely gave Barge a hand up in the selection process is its naming of Vicksburg resident Keafur Grimes as project manager, reporting directly to the City of Vicksburg. Grimes holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Tennessee State University and has completed graduate studies in the subject at Mississippi State University.

For more information on Barge Design Solutions, visit its website.

“Vicksburg is moving into the future now,” Monsour said. “We’re not holding back any more.”


Trustmark donates $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA



Left to Right: Christian Easterling, Mary Ellen Montgomery, Isiah Young, Victoria Young, Oliver Love (photo courtesy Phillip Doiron)

Trustmark Bank has donated $50,000 to the Vicksburg YMCA for its capital campaign which included a building expansion.

Trustmark announced the donation Wednesday on its Facebook page.

‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign…

Posted by Trustmark on Wednesday, December 2, 2020

“‘Tis the season for giving! It is an honor to support our local Junius Ward Johnson Memorial YMCA’s capital campaign efforts to better serve the Vicksburg community, and we are thankful to our friends at the Y for all they do!” the bank wrote.

In 2018, the YMCA launched a $4 million expansion campaign which included building a new basketball gym and adding a new fitness area. CEO Phillip Doiron said it also included a new play area for children.

Trustmark has now donated a total of $75,000 to the YMCA for the expansion. The money will go to good use in helping the Y better serve the community.

The YMCA has been in its Clay Street location since 2002 when it relocated from downtown Vicksburg. Most of the construction is complete, and an indoor playground will be added shortly thanks to community donations such as those from Trustmark Bank.

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Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp



Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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Fun Lanes bowling alley has reopened



(photo by David Day)

Fun Lanes bowling alley in the Uptown Vicksburg mall has reopened.

The bowling alley closed earlier this year after former General Manager Patrick Belden unexpectedly died as a result of a car crash. While the bowling alley has the same owners, they have made some improvements. A statement on the Uptown Vicksburg Facebook page explained:

“Fun Lanes Bowling has made renovations and is now under new management. Fun Lanes wants to let everyone know that they have a renewed goal of being a family-friendly, safe location for the people of Vicksburg and the surrounding area to come out and enjoy the sport of bowling. Fun Lanes at Uptown Vicksburg, come on out and check us out. You will be glad you did.”

(photo by David Day)

The bowling alley had become a hotspot for police activity due to the large crowds that gathered there for late-night, weekend DJ parties. While the parties were a major success and there were almost no problems reported inside the bowling alley, the large crowds outside sometimes became disruptive.

Tony Lemus, Fun Lanes acting general manager (photo by David Day)

“We are committed to a family friendly atmosphere and look forward to providing Vicksburg with a great, fun and family friendly atmosphere” said acting General Manager Tony Lemus.

The hours of operation have changed. Fun Lanes is now open Mondays through Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m.

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